I’m happy to be hosting Shelly Holt today and her book Tasting Fire. She’s got a blog post for us, and then we’ll find out about the book.
What is in a name? If your a new author with a romance novel to title, for you a great deal!
As a self published author, out of all of the different tasks I was presented, from the writing of the book to editing and now publicizing it. The one I struggled with the most was titling. Sure I didn’t enjoy copy proofing, but it was pretty cut and dried, read until it’s perfect.
Tilting isn’t always as easy as that. You don’t have a cheat sheet where you can look to see if your really done and you got the right answer. Tasting Fire wasn’t always Tasting Fire. It was first called Leopard’s Embrace, in fact on my hard drive are still the first 44 chapters and epilogue labeled as Leopard’s Embrace. (I’m not very good about cleaning up my hard drive.) I think I went with Dharma’s Daughters and then Sacred Daughter and a few others that are so putrid, I’m too embarrassed to even tell you about them.
In the end, I had to basically summarize the book in the title and without giving away the ending (no spoilers here) the basic theme of the book is about enlightenment, (don’t worry, it is a romance and there is lots of sex in the book.) The book is about spiritual, social and ecological enlightment, the term Tasting Fire is referring to the fire of spiritual enlightment.
I used many different theologies to help guide the spiritual aspects of the plot. Hopefully I did a good enough job of weaving them into the plot that they don’t come off as too preachy or identifiable. The beautiful cover art I licensed from talented photographer Michael Tilton Williams is a representation of the Buddhist deity Yamantaka. He is known as a protector of dharma and slayer of death. I found the imagery quite appropriate after I researched Buddhist deities and was inspired by the cover when I decided on my title.
I wonder if all writers have as difficult a time as I did on deciding the title. Even now it still feels like a temporary title to me. I often wonder if that’s normal for a writer.
I’m really proud of the book and believe it will stand out as a strong, positive, and sexy (did I mention there’s lots of sex in it) original tale that will delight and provoke those who read it.
Many thanks to Carly Fall for inviting me to visit Where Fantasy Meets Romance today and share my experience of writing Tasting Fire with you.
**Carly’s note: Yes, I got through the same thing with titling. Ugh! Actually, I’m going through it right now!***
Shape-shifters have always walked the earth. Shrouded in myth and folklore, hiding in the shadows, watching and waiting. Advances in modern science are now about to reveal them to the world. Kai Tenzin is the self appointed leader of the Pari people. He and his kind evolved from the most reclusive predators on earth, the Asian Snow Leopard. They live and hunt in the most fearsome and rugged terrain known to man, the Himalayas. As a young man, Kai left his small village where the mountain touches the heavens, determined to do anything to protect his people. When he is forced to enlist the aid of the beautiful American scientist Dr. Rae Hales, the last thing he expects to find is a woman who will ensnare his heart and endanger them all. Their action-packed adventure will take them around the world to discover the truth behind the legends and reveal the future of humanity.
Rae took an admiring look at the vista below as she dropped her heavy pack on the ground. The mountains in the distance looked purple and the desert brush spread out below them like a master oil painting. It was awe inspiring to human eyes. Rae wondered what would it look like to a snow leopard. She suddenly realized many a biologist would sell their very soul for the opportunity she had at that moment. Rae turned to Kai who had been sitting on the ground with his pack and fishing around for lunch and asked him “what is it like when you’re in your Shan form out in country like this?” Kai rewarded Rae with the most brilliant smile she had yet seen to grace the handsome shape-shifter’s face. He seemed truly delighted to discuss the subject with her. Kai stood up to answer Rae’s question. He addressed the human scientist. “It’s like nothing you can imagine Rae. Every sense is in tune with the planet. See that tree over there” he pointed a few yards away at an ancient gnarled pinyon. “Yes” Rae replied. Kai walked up behind Rae and put his hands on her shoulders and directed her to look even closer at the tree. He whispered intimately in her ear as if they were in a church or another sacred space “when you look at that tree with your limited human vision, the average person can certainly appreciate its form and color. A biologist like yourself would ask what type of tree is it and how old it is. A philosopher might ask who may have sat underneath it in the past or who might sit underneath it in the future. All of you might even wonder when will it die. That’s the limit of your human perception. When you’re in Shan form every single leaf will bid you a glorious greeting as you walk up to the tree for the first time. Every drop of sap tells you the history of the tree’s life like an intimate biography written in the utterly sensual language of scent. The tree itself will tell you if it’s healthy or sick. You can smell if the water that nourishes it is bitter or sweet. If you deeply pay attention you can smell every animal that has ever been there.” Kai looked to Rae like he was experiencing a spiritual moment and Rae suddenly realized he was. The enthralled shape-shifter continued to explain to Rae the nuances of the animal world “when you are ready to move on to another place you reach up with your powerful claws and dig deep into the bark to mark the tree with your scent. It’s added harmoniously to the scent of hundreds of other animals. You do this not just to mark your hunting territory, but to tell every animal after you have left this world that you lived and breathed here at one time in the great mystery that is life. That is your only immortality in the animal world. There are no monuments to mark a man’s ego, or family albums for a mother to remember her children by, but neither is there hate, nor fear of the future or regret of the past. You are fully alive in each and every moment. It’s a wonderfully free existence. I wish I could truly share it with you… words, words pale in comparison.” Kai looked so happy at that moment. Rae was so moved by what he had just shared with her that all she could do was reach out and touch his wrist. “Thank you!” she whispered. Kai nodded at her in acknowledgment, but he was too emotional to even speak.
My name is Shelly Holt and I live in the middle of the harsh and unforgiving Mojave desert. I write my stories looking out of a window that shows sweeping desert views. Outside is a barren and severe landscape, yet inside my head lives a world filled with exotic shape-shifters come to life, pulled from the pages of myth and legend, ready to entice and seduce any reader brave enough to take them on.